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May 23: Pulling strings on the Brighton Fringe
SOMEONE call Equity; let alone not being actors, some of the stars of this year’s Fringe aren’t even human. From polar bears to mermaids, chippy socks to 50ft women, puppets are being used in increasingly inventive ways in Brighton venues.
No less than 35 shows in this year’s programme feature creatures on strings and poles and not all of them aimed at young audiences. While puppets continue to add a fantastical element to children’s storytelling, more and more, adults are also getting in on the act with puppetry shows that subvert and entertain.
The ever-popular Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets are some of the most foul-mouthed creatures to pollute a washing basket; The Great Puppet Horn features monstrous, shadowy versions of our esteemed Prime Minister and a mutant Maggie Thatcher and Blind Summit’s The Table must be one of very few shows to feature a giant puppet having an existential crisis.
Like animation, puppetry offers the scope to create characters and explore ideas that wouldn’t be possible in traditional staging. In The Wrong Crowd’s The Girl With The Iron Claws (opens tonight at The Warren), a young girl falls headlong in love with a polar bear, beautifully created in life size with papier mache, fur and poles. The show’s puppet cast lends a depth and magic that would be difficult to achieve by other means.
In Kissing The Gunner’s Daughter, pale sailors and flame-headed sirens dip and dive in the darkness of a barnacled bathing machine, lending an extra dreaminess to a show watched through peep holes (if you’ve yet to catch the wonderful Dip Your Toe installations, the machines will all be lined up on Madeira Drive this weekend).
Following in the ambitious footsteps of I Have Never Cared For Sunsets, which pulled strings with Issac Newton and Karl Popper, the next few days see a 50ft woman attempting to access the bijou Iambic Arts Theatre on Gardner Street. I’ve mentioned Attack of the 50ft Woman before, but really, UFOs, adulterous husbands and a rampaging Godzilla-sized puppet? If this doesn’t embody the spirit of Fringe, I don’t know what does.
Tagged in: Brighton Fringe
The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's Spring Tour & Previews Hereford May 27 • Harrogate June 28/29 • Rondo Bath July 9 • Beverly Puppet Festival July 13 • Tring July 19 • Manchester July 20 • Nottingham + Guildford July 21 • Derby July 22 • Bedford July 27 • Edinburgh Fringe August 1-26. Spread the word.
"Superbly written, crafted and performed show" ★★★★½ The Punch, Adelaide 2012
“An absolute winner” ★★★★ Chortle
"For sheer energy and laughs per hour, these comic stockings are the biz denier miss it." - ★★★★ The Scotsman
"I experienced streaming tears of laughter and almost fell off my chair clutching my aching sides" ★★★★★ 5 STARS Broadway Baby